Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Time is finally catching onto the problem!

Sorry folks for being away once again, as much as I would like to update frequently, my personal life is just in a frenzy. I know that maybe a month or two ago, Alan Collinge, stated that there are moles within his Student Loan Justice movement, moles that pretend to be borrowers in trouble when they're really student loan officers looking for delinquent accounts and issuing referrals.

I am here to tell you, that I am not a student loan officer undercover. And to any agents and moles reading this, I will kindly tell you to please leave my blog, you will not find what you're looking for.

In other news, I found an online article from Time, who is finally recognizing the problem. And I even took note of the one comment (please, feel free to add to this!) saying that it's a debt prison we're in.

In this time of uncertainty where Congress is arguing over the national debt, the debt ceiling, the nation's credit being downgraded and a rise in gold, I agree with Mr. Collinge that Congress is focusing on the wrong debt...

I've made this argument before...I could do so much more with my life if I had more room to grow under this crush debt. I'd love to be able to apply for a job and not have to sweat when they tell me they'll run a credit check...
I'd love to be able to go into a car dealership and get myself a car that I won't have to pray will start.
I'd love to go into an apartment complex and not sweat when the landlord runs the background check.
I'd love to go to a community college and take a few classes, maybe even follow my original dream of becoming a teacher and at least give myself a career where I can actually make loan payments and not have to starve.
I'd love to do all that, just live a decent little life...nothing luxurious, just a roof over my head, an economical car and a 9-to-5 job and I would be happy just with that.
And it angers me that I can't even have those 3 things because of this financial bear trap.

So, I'll just continue to follow Alan Collinge's orders...write to the press, write to a congressman, contribute what I can financially to Student Loan Justice (He said he'd be happy if everyone could pitch in $5) and just not give up.

I'll try to post more in the coming weeks. Good luck to everyone out there. Godspeed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A scary but insighful article

There is talk of bringing back "Debtor's Prison", a concept that went out in 1833...the only state I can think that has this is Nevada, due to all of the gambling done in Las Vegas and Reno...but that's understandable since it's gambling and those people do know what they're getting themselves into.
This article though, points out the scary reality of bringing Debtor's Prison back and how it will just drain taxpayer money, waste law enforcement's time away from real criminal cases and how it's just another scheme for big corporations to use the government for their own personal gain.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To be honest...

It was 10 years ago this month that I graduated high school. And I had dreams at that time. I originally wanted to be a history teacher by 16 because I just wanted to share my passion of history onto others, despite the difficulties of being a teacher. Unfortunately, my own history teacher laughed at me and told me to chose another career since he admitted he made a mistake. So, that sent me away from that path. To this day, I regret listening to him because I did have a passion, a nearly unquestionable passion for history. I still do. But, the only way I get to teach is to the very few teenagers who seek my help.
Upon graduation, that's all the principle and staff told us, "Go to college! Get out of here. Go to college and life a normal life." That just added to the desperation of trying to find something to do with my life.
After being scared from history, I got into art and I was fairly decent at it. And then, I went to some Pixar and Dreamworks movies...the original Shrek and Toy Story 2 and I fell in love with computer animation. I thought how great it would be to work in an animation studio, creating movies for children, telling stories and having my name in movie credits. So, I took several months trying really hard to get my admissions portfolio ready for this art college that shall remain nameless...but requires an art portfolio to be considered for admission. (Note: Any art school that doesn't ask for a portfolio, don't trust them) So by the end of 2001, I had everything all drawn and painted and I sent it in.
The school replied that for the computer animation program, my portfolio was unsatisfactory. And it hurt, I was sad, but I wish the school would have said "You are not good enough for admission", but they didn't...
Instead, they recommended I study traditional art....
And keep in mind, I was still a naive guy looking to escape the small town and the rundown trailer park that I resided in...I just wanted out so badly like everyone else who went to college. I never really stopped to look over my options but there I was...with a school saying "You can still come to this campus in the fall..."
And before I knew it, I was in the financial aid office, filling out my loan papers out of desperation, the lady smiling, going "when you're creating storyboards and painting children's book covers, you can more than pay it back."
And that was just music to this small town hick's ears.
And even though my mother had bad credit from her credit cards, they still approved the PLUS loan for her...
So that's 2 things I'll always wonder about...How a fancy and prestigious art school accepted a below mediocre student and how my mother with bad credit was approved for the PLUS loan.
I get to the school and I can't wait to draw and paint while other kids in college stress over research papers and lab work...And I just plain sucked. I was in a room of DaVinci's and Picasso's, the next generations of Walt Disney and Donald Bluth hopefuls...and I was the worst student.
When we put our art in the wall for review, I was always pointed out as the weakest artist. And there were times I would go to the office and ask "Am I going to get kicked out, or do I drop out? Do I transfer?"
And each time, they replied "We are not kicking you out. And you can't really transfer since art credits get you very little at other institutions."

I wish I had been kicked out. Why was I taking out 20k loans just to be embarrassed in class? Question 3: Why wasn't anyone really straight with me? There was a time I wanted out and they talked me out of leaving.

Ten years after high school, where am I? Well, I can't even draw a straight line, I hate art that much. I'm barely able to afford rent and electricity, and because I have to little-to-no experience in anything else outside of art, I'm useless on the job field. I've had so many interviews, with plumbers, silk screeners and warehouse, who said they like me but no job. I'm left just scrapping together enough to pay off my living expenses. There is nothing left for Sallie Mae or anyone else...I'm in default and under a giant mountain of debt.

I'm not telling this story to be pitied or get sympathy. I don't need it. Chances are, I may not be alive for my 20th reunion. And that's okay, I accept that. I've kissed away dreams of getting married, owning a home, starting a family. I'm good. I don't want to drag a wife down with me, or be unable to provide for my kids.

No, I only tell this story because its something I would never wish on anyone else.

I wish I could just tell myself back in 2001...Going to college wasn't everything. I wish I could have told myself to take my time, figure out who I really was, what would really make me happy and if I had to stock shelves at a super market until I was 25, then so be it. Baz Luhrman said in that Sunscreen Song, "Don't feel bad if you don't know what you want to do with your life, at 22 or at 40." And I should have listened.
Everyone has their own pace in life, don't force it or rush it...Just be patient and you'll find what you're looking for.

And don't believe the lie that if you don't escape your hometown for a while, you're a failure. Because that is the biggest load I've ever heard. I've had several friends stay at the supermarkets and pharmacies, worked their way up from stock to manager and now own homes and have families. Like I said, everyone has their own pace in life.

In the end, do what you feel like. Go to college, stay in your hometown, work your way up the chain, just do something that will make you happy. And always know, life never goes according to plan.

As for me, I know I made mistakes. I never bothered to look at the fine print or even research Sallie Mae. I was a desperate kid, and the faults of a desperate kid have shut many doors in my life. So, I'll admit fault to that. I don't know how much time I have left here...but, I just want people to learn from my mistakes. I want that on my tombstone...Learn from Where I have failed.

To the rest, I say...Keep fighting, tell your story, write to your congressmen, talk to the media, join Alan Collinge and his mission to restore the rights.

Good Luck and God Be With You.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Feds may start to collect on defaulted loans and Alan Collinge vs C. Cryn Johansen

As news of Osama bin Laden's death dominates the news, here's a story that has been sneaked in by USA Today. And if anyone out there has their property being liened or seized by the Department of Education, please contact Alan Collinge immediately. Always remember, he can be reached through the Student Loan Justice website.

This is an article that is worth reading. I found it very interesting.

And finally, this is Alan Collinge's response to C. Cryn Johansen's AEM blog that may have been deleted:

My second response:

Hi xxxxxxxxxxxxx,

My email was down for two days...I learned only today about Cryn apparently ending the group she had going there...I assume this is what you were refering to. Just so you know, I wrote to Cryn, but I do not think she will post my comments on her blog. But here is what I wrote. I want to be clear that I support anyone truly fighting for the interests of the students, and there are very few shortcomings that I can't work with. Please read my comments below so that you can understand exactly the position I take with Cryn...

-------------------------------------------What I tried to post on the AEM blog:

Cryn, as a matter of policy, I never had any disagreements with you. I did, however, find it incredibly weird, and offputting that you never came around to stating a position on the return of bankruptcy protections to federal student loans. And you know that I tried quite hard to understand your position on this, pro, con, or otherwise. A simple, straight answer would have helped me understand where you were coming from way back then, but you never came around to do that.

So that was weird and even troubling, but I chalked it up to typical ivy league snobbery, which I am very used to at this point. Beyond that, you didn't really say anything that offended me, etc as far as policy. You were on the right side of the gainful employment debate...but I think that debate is silly, take no strong position either way. You were also right to bash Rev. Jackson, I hate to say (because his group and ours are on the same page in many other ways), and I said as much at the time...But again, these are issues I really don't take a strong interest in, so if you were being attacked on policy stands, it wasn't from me or anyone in my group.

What did cause me to make negative public comments about you was your working for a lending company, Edulender. This is a conflict that unfortunately would take anyone out of the game, and I made similar comments to the borrower who went from being featured nationally about her debt to working for them. So don't take it personally. When you work for people who absolutely don't want to see any meaningful changes in the lending system, and who will work hard to make sure that the most critical problems are neglected, this is a clear and obvious conflict around which there is no getting.

Even the established student advocates who have clearly failed students so badly (ie NCLC, the USPIRG, TICAS, et al) wouldn't dare take money from lenders...and they are almost completely incapable of actually fighting for students even so, so you see my point.

I do empathize with the lack of funding, but that is a part of this struggle that only the borrowers can fix, unfortunately. I nearly made the mistake years ago of getting funding from guarantors to run a counseling program. I backed out before that happened, but I do understand the temptation.

So if any of your comments were directed towards me (and I hope that they were not), they are misguided, because no one MORE than me wants good people fighting squarely for the interests of the students, and I support anyone who does so. I would still like to know what the deal was with that bankruptcy question...did you ever come to a position? Anyhow...

To "Anonymous": I don't understand why you are criticising Nando for his comments at the forum. While I wasn't there I understand that Nando rightfully pointed out egregious and disingenuous fundraising, and spending by a law school. Why is this counterproductive? Why is pointing out this, and a huge number of similar examples of out-of-control spending not worthwhile? I do not understand this comment.

That is all for now. And please remember, donate to the cause because Student Loan Justice needs as much support as possible.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More from Alan Collinge about that article

Hey All,

I'm still pissed about that piece published in the NYTimes yesterday. Its this type of non-starter, hand wringing article that breaks no new news, and simply repeats what the fake student advocates like Lauren Asher, Deanne Loonin, et al that we DON'T need.

The piece never mentions that Mark Kantrowitz makes his money from lenders and schools, either. People need to know this.

The reporter, Tamar Lewin, is new on the beat, and obviously needs to hear about the real issue from us, the borrowers. So I'm going to take the liberty of giving you all, the people she NEEDS to hear from, her personal email address. USE IT. MAKE HER FEEL YOUR PAIN.

Also, please donate. We need it:

Monday, April 11, 2011

This articles DOES suck! Student debt a healthy investment???

Reading this made me want to vomit in rage. If Susan Dynarski was a man, I would punch him right in the face. Good to see the NY Times prints such wonderful articles. It really does anger me. Healthy investment? For many people, just being able to pay off the electric or phone bills...that's a healthy investment. Being able to pay for decent health insurance and auto coverage, that's a healthy investment. Paying for a scam that keeps growing in drowning debt...seriously Dynarski, you are very misguided. But, judging from your position at the University of Michigan, you really wouldn't know what good and bad debt truly feels like. Make your own assessment, people, but don't just sit there and scratch your heads. Voice your opinion. The longer everyone just stalls, the longer this problem continues to thrive and the NY Times will continue to belittle the problem and sweep us under the rug. The insanity continues as long as you let it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


A slight change in topic but I'm well aware of the notorious NCO. So, I thought I'd share what I know about them and list a few numbers. Now, I advocate taking care of all your other bills, electric, medical, etc...because having a wolf on your case like NCO in addition to Sallie Mae...could be just enough to put you into the mental institution.

But here is what I found out about:

NCO has changed their return address...
NCO Financial Systems, Inc.
507 Prudential Rd
Horsham, PA 19044-2308

NCO Financial Systems Inc
P O box 15630
Dept 99
Wilmington DE 19850

Although on the envelope, it'll just have the PO box info, since by now, they should know having NCO on the envelope would ruin the surprise. What they didn't realize is that the address can be punched into Google. At which point, a simple 'Does not live here at this address' can be written on and NCO will be thrown off for a while. Not a long term solution, but at least it'll save you stress when checking mail. Same goes for medical bill collectors.

The number for which NCO has called from, either from NCO or the name Antoine Jefferson:

There is also a number from an MCO (not sure if its linked) that uses 1-800-708-8625.

The complaints about NCO are well as their practices such as trying to revive "zombie debt", trying to collect off debts of the deceased, lying about bank overdrafts to get routing numbers and all sorts of wonderful tricks to get money. And at times, they go after people who owe nothing at all.

For more stories about NCO, go here.

And again, if you want to avoid a wolf like NCO, just please take control of your finances, pay your bills on time because like Sallie Mae, these guys just aim to make life miserable. And again, I don't advocate not paying debt or running away, I'm just giving out this info because I've had additional debt collectors after me.

I hit gravel on my road bike...a 2 hour wait in the ER, 6 stitches and my bill was over $1000. Luckily, I gave them my Google number (which I highly recommend for these scenarios) which acts as your personal secretary...when a collector calls my Google number, a voice asks for them to ID themselves and the message they leave is immediately put into text and emailed to me. I've avoided the stress of several medical bill collectors trying to use 'unknown caller' status.

I'm gradually paying it off since medical services were rendered and I believe in paying off what I owe...I just don't need or want a collector hounding me on the phone 5 times a day, saying they want the full balance paid off.

So with that, that's why I felt like writing about NCO. So once again, make life a little easier by keeping NCO out of it.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An article that should make us angry

Alan Collinge pointed this one out and he commented about it towards the bottom:

Alan Collinge's tips on stopping wage garnishment

Hey folks,

For those of you having your wages garnished into a bottomless pit:

Stopping wage garnishment is easy if you have a decent relationship with your employer. Simply ask the payroll department to stop the garnishment, and tell the collection agency to produce a court order in order for the garnishments to continue. The collection companies may talk tough, but they probably will not,and in fact, you will in all likelihood never hear from them again.

You may need to explain a bit about the predatory nature of the loans, about the grassroots groundswell against this predatory system, etc...

But if you can make payroll understand, and do this, you will get to keep your pay. It worked for me. 4 years ago. And nothing has changed with the system since then.

This is no long term solution of course, but it may help you.

Another helpful piece of advice: Demand that your defaulted loan be transferred directly to the Department of Education. Again, this won't solve any problems, but it will cut the guarantor and its collection companies out of the process, which typically is a good thing.



ps. please donate:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some bad news from Alan Collinge

Great. I am now being told that another "leader" in this movement, Cryn Johansen, has also sold out to the lending industry. She is writing her blog now at:

The website name says it all. I knew there was something very wrong with her over a year ago when she wouldn't answer my very simple question, "Are you for or against the return of standard consumer protections like bankruptcy to student loans, or otherwise?". It took a weekends worth of email attempts to get her to simply answer this question, but she never did. Sad, sad, sad.

People: Where are the honest, uncorrupted leaders, here? Seriously...this issue is absolutely huge...far larger than one or two people can serve well, however good their leadership skills. I know there are honest, upright, well educated people reading this who could absolutely make stunning careers off of this issue without selling out to the lending industry, the Department of Education etc.

You need to step up. We support any and all honest, diligent efforts to fight the predatory student loan industry, and we NEED others to step up so we aren't the single target floating around out there to take the brunt of the attacks.

There will always be Cryn's, or Robert's popping up to suck the air out of things, but do not be intimidated by them, and by all means, do not trust that they are actually doing what they claim...particularly when their cashflow screams the opposite. These people need to be replaced by real people with heartfelt feelings on this issue. I know you are out there-

Think about that. You're country actually needs you, and I say that with no drama or exaggeration.

Be well,


In better news. Alan and his group put together enough funds to go to John Boehner's house and protest.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm back...and Alan Collinge needs help!

Sorry for my absence, a combination of the flu and life reflection have delayed me from here. But, I have returned. And right now, it seems that we are in an age of revolution once more. We saw it in 1914 with World War I...we saw it during the 1960s...and we saw it during 1989 when that Wall came down and once again...we are in that age. Protesters in Tunisia and Egypt have accomplished so much within the past few months and we're seeing it again in Libya and maybe more countries...I don't know where their future is headed but right now, they wanted change and they're getting it.
And I'm sure we've seen what's been going on in Wisconsin.
Well, now it can be our turn. This could be our stand to take the first steps to restore consumer rights to student loans and to expose Sallie Mae and every other creditor predator out there.
And Alan Collinge has a plan:

A road trip to John Boener's House:

We now have about a tenth of the money required to make this trip happen ($1500-$2000). We can't draw out the money raising until the trip happens. We have to get that settled before we can set any firm date, time, etc.

We have 10,000 people receiving these messages. People need to step up and kick in for once.

C'mon, guys-We can easily do this. We should be able to easily raise the minimum in nothing flat, with money left over to bus people in if necessary.

An Age of if you can, please donate whatever you can to the cause. Those who settle for mediocrity do nothing in life. Don't settle. Act.